Pellet insert recommendations?

rhanauer

New Member
Apr 18, 2019
4
MA
This is my first post here! A tech at our local stove dealer just recommended this site to me. I'm looking to replace the 1998 Whitfield Advantage II insert that came with our house, as I'd like more efficiency & features (autostart, thermostatic control, airwash for glass). It was rated at up to 37,000 BTU & I may be looking for a similar size, but would consider a larger one with the right features/quality if it's capable of running very low on milder days. Our fireplace is in an open family room/kitchen area at one end of the house & I'm worried about a larger stove overheating that area. We prefer a classic cast iron look (e.g. Ravelli Roma, Enviro M55, Regency Hampton Greenfire GCi60 all appeal to me), but of course performance & reliability are important factors. Any feedback on these or other recommended inserts would be appreciated! Warmly, Rick
 

Paulinator

New Member
Nov 27, 2017
33
SW WA
I really like my Harman 52i, and the newer TC Models are out there. Just a suggestion. Do your research, and decide on what will fill your needs. It is better to have too much stove VS too little. My .02
 
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Tortue

New Member
Apr 13, 2019
5
Seattle, WA
I'll second the Harman recommendation. The sliding track/vent docking, operational fine tuning capabilities and safety features are well engineered.
My wife and I chose the Harman p35i, as it met our heating space criteria.
My wife wasn't crazy about the big black surround, so she's decided to paint it this summer. I'll share some pics once it's done. She teaches art, so...
We loved the majolica brown 52i, but it was way too much heat for our space (900sq/ft).
We also invested in two super quiet room fans (Vornados) to move the heat around and are quite satisfied with the results.
The little p35I seems to manage the temps nicely during our transition seasons.
And, I couldn't agree more with Paulinator about the stove size recommendation.

Good luck!
 
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fmsm

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2011
914
South of Boston MA
You can’t go wrong with a P35i, you do not want something too big and it is truly a great stove.

My experience is that you do not want a stove that running on low AND overheating the area. This will cause a dirtier burn and make you uncomfortable. It sounds like the 52i is just too much stove. I am also what some may call a “pellet snob”, I burn only top rated Douglas Fir in my stoves as I like clean glass and enjoy just having to give a fast scrape and vac every week followed by a deeper cleaning every 2-3 weeks.

The other consideration that makes a Harman insert more desirable is the cage/rail system, pulling in and out is a VERY easy process compared to an insert that does not utilize this kind of system.

Before you buy make a list of everything you hate about your current insert, I bet a P35i will cross most if not all of the items off your list.
 
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rhanauer

New Member
Apr 18, 2019
4
MA
You can’t go wrong with a P35i, you do not want something too big and it is truly a great stove.

My experience is that you do not want a stove that running on low AND overheating the area. This will cause a dirtier burn and make you uncomfortable. It sounds like the 52i is just too much stove. I am also what some may call a “pellet snob”, I burn only top rated Douglas Fir in my stoves as I like clean glass and enjoy just having to give a fast scrape and vac every week followed by a deeper cleaning every 2-3 weeks.

The other consideration that makes a Harman insert more desirable is the cage/rail system, pulling in and out is a VERY easy process compared to an insert that does not utilize this kind of system.

Before you buy make a list of everything you hate about your current insert, I bet a P35i will cross most if not all of the items off your list.
 

rhanauer

New Member
Apr 18, 2019
4
MA
Thanks for the great replies! I went to another dealer today hoping to see an Enviro M55 or Regency GCi60 in action (apparently the same or very similar stoves), but the rep said they've stopped showing them because of noise complaints & are pushing Quadra Fires now which he claims are the quietest inserts & loved by their customers. I liked the Trekker, but then got home & read that the Bluetooth thermostatic control (the only way to operate the unit!) can be glitchy & cause shutdowns. The other Quads (Mt Vernon or Castile) might be options but they're not as efficient & I think they may also lack onboard controls. He also had the Ravelli Roma but though he praised Ravelli's FS stoves claimed they hadn't sold enough inserts to recommend it or not. All very confusing. But, the more comments I read from folks like you here & elsewhere online, the more I'm leaning toward a Harman. So next step is to visit a dealer that carries them (those places are further away but it sounds worth a trip). If it comes down to a choice of a 35i or 52i, I'll have to weigh the positives of extra power for the few severe cold days here in central MA vs the possible negatives of burning too low in milder weather. Apparently, most stoves now can shut down & restart if needed to hold a thermostat setting, but it sounds like that cycling may lead to dirtier operation & wear on the ignitor. In any case, I'll post an update later!
 

fedtime

Feeling the Heat
Sep 13, 2009
257
Down East Canada
Hi Rick, we faced a similar choice a few years ago. But our choice was driven by the space we had to work with. We looked at a bunch of inserts, but only one fit the small space we had without modifications - the Harman Accentra with the zero clearance box.

Space may not be an issue in your case, but I thought I'd mention it.
 
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fmsm

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2011
914
South of Boston MA
Hi Rick, we faced a similar choice a few years ago. But our choice was driven by the space we had to work with. We looked at a bunch of inserts, but only one fit the small space we had without modifications - the Harman Accentra with the zero clearance box.

Space may not be an issue in your case, but I thought I'd mention it.
If the Accentra (52i) fit then the P35i would have fit. The differences in the two stoves are BTU’s/size and if I am not mistaken the 52i comes with the newer digital control panel. The P35i does not have removable panels that you need to clean behind making that portion of your cleaning easier, it does have a triangle shaped access plate on both sides that the 52i doesn’t have.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
2,203
Eastern Ontario
Every body or pretty well everybody will recommend Harman
I will be the decanting vote . I an an Enviro man . Look at all the
posts of people who are having problems with there Harman with
getting it to burn right or noises and other problems they far outweigh
Enviro problems. Most Enviro problems are solved with in 4 or 5 reply's
M55 had problems when first released but the Company addressed them
and now they are practically bullet proof the put out good heat and are
multi flue . I have used the same stove for 17 years and have had every
little problems OK Harmsn people I am ready for a beaten
 

fmsm

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2011
914
South of Boston MA
Every body or pretty well everybody will recommend Harman
I will be the decanting vote . I an an Enviro man . Look at all the
posts of people who are having problems with there Harman with
getting it to burn right or noises and other problems they far outweigh
Enviro problems. Most Enviro problems are solved with in 4 or 5 reply's
M55 had problems when first released but the Company addressed them
and now they are practically bullet proof the put out good heat and are
multi flue . I have used the same stove for 17 years and have had every
little problems OK Harmsn people I am ready for a beaten
That’s because Harman outsells Enviro 20 to 1. From Harman’s Bottom feed system to their pull out cage system you can’t do better! You are not going to hear about many Enviro issues because there are very few in operation compared to the award winning, best selling, and high volume Harman line.
 
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johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
2,203
Eastern Ontario
That’s because Harman outsells Enviro 20 to 1. From Harman’s Bottom feed system to their pull out cage system you can’t do better! You are not going to hear about many Enviro issues because there are very few in operation compared to the award winning, best selling, and high volume Harman line.
Lets just agree to disagree around here Enviro outsells Harman at 40 to 1
but we do have more Enviro dealers than Harman Because Enviro is built
in CANADA
 
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stovelark

Minister of Fire
Oct 10, 2009
1,458
SE CT
Actually you're both right- Enviro or Harman are good stoves if they're installed properly, ran and maintained properly. Each have their advantages, Harmans are nice inserts but since being owned by HHT, their quality has fallen. I have sold, installed and maintained a lot of pellet stoves, they each have goods and bads. I personally like Enviro and Quads better than Harman, but Harmans are still great stoves. That's what it comes down to, what one likes personally. The stove for you is the one you can afford and want. Treat it well, keep it clean and most important, give it good fuel. Stay warm.
 
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fmsm

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2011
914
South of Boston MA
Actually you're both right- Enviro or Harman are good stoves if they're installed properly, ran and maintained properly. Each have their advantages, Harmans are nice inserts but since being owned by HHT, their quality has fallen. I have sold, installed and maintained a lot of pellet stoves, they each have goods and bads. I personally like Enviro and Quads better than Harman, but Harmans are still great stoves. That's what it comes down to, what one likes personally. The stove for you is the one you can afford and want. Treat it well, keep it clean and most important, give it good fuel. Stay warm.
Do you prefer a bottom feeder or top feeder and why?
 

stovelark

Minister of Fire
Oct 10, 2009
1,458
SE CT
My first inclination is a top feeder because I'm more used to that operation, although I will say that the bottom fed units (Harman, Osburn, England) seem to work fine too. I still truly believe that pellet fuel is the most important factor, good fuel makes a good heater better, stays cleaner and less troublesome. Likewise, I've seen questionable fuel cause weird stove operations, even on the top tier stoves. I am a softwood pellet fan, but the store I work for is a hardwood pellet fan all the way (Barefoots, which I agree do burn well, I still prefer Spruce pointe or Okanagans).
Bottom feeders I have found (even Harman) need to have the "beard" of ash cleaned off of the burnpot area everyday, it is unsightly, I just prefer the top feeders, when pellets fall in, they kinda blowout the ash that is left in the burnpot. Now poor pellets can build up a clinker on a top feeder, and the air control needs to be adjusted correctly, or in Quadrafire's case, the fuel feed needs to be adjusted properly (no air damper on Quads.) A lot of this stuff is personal and just experiences lived. Again, a good stove with good fuel is the real key.
 
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rhanauer

New Member
Apr 18, 2019
4
MA
Great discussion. I just ordered the 52i yesterday - this decision was partly based on the dealer (Higgins Energy Alternatives of Barre, MA) which is 5-star rated & has sold, installed, & serviced Harman’s for a long time. I had a good feeling speaking with them on the phone & then visiting yesterday, compared with the other places I contacted. Also, my wife likes the aesthetics!
 

stovelark

Minister of Fire
Oct 10, 2009
1,458
SE CT
Good luck with your new stove- you're gonna love it. Give it good fuel. Be warm.
 
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